Colombo: The number of Sri Lankan refugees, mostly from India, returning home has seen a marked drop in 2011 when compared with the previous year, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
The latest UNHCR statistics has shown that a total
of 1,728 Sri Lankan refugees had returned under UNHCR?s
facilitated voluntary repatriation programme in 2011.
In 2010 UNHCR helped some 2,054 Sri Lankan refugees
come home. In 2009, UNHCR facilitated the voluntary return of
some 818 individuals.
In October 2011, UNHCR opened up the return of Sri
Lankan refugees from India to Colombo by ferry, adding a new
dimension to its voluntary repatriation programme.
Until then, all returns took place by air.
However the ferry service was suspended one month
later. Apart from those who returned from India, a small
numbers have also returned from Malaysia, Georgia and the
Caribbean Island of St. Lucia.
A majority of the returns are taking place to
eastern district of Trincomalee. A substantial number is also
going back to the Mannar and Vavuniya districts in the
country’s north while small groups are returning to Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Batticaloa, Colombo, Ampara, Puttalam and Kandy.
UNHCR`s most recent statistics show that as of
end-2010 there are some 141,063 Sri Lankan refugees in 65
countries, with a majority -some 69,000 in 112 refugee camps
and another 32,000 living outside camps in Tamil Nadu, India.
The other main countries with Sri Lankan refugees
are France, Canada, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Australia,
Malaysia, the United States and Italy.